Kerr looks to maintain perfection at Womens Open

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2010, 12:49 am

2010 U.S. Women

OAKMONT, Pa. – Cristie Kerr isn’t trying to improve on perfection. She’s only trying to maintain it.

Difficult? No doubt. But difficult is a word that will be tossed around frequently at Oakmont Country Club during the U.S. Women’s Open that Kerr is favored to win, if only because it’s difficult right now to pick anyone else.

Kerr was so in control, so dominating, so far out in front for most of the LPGA Championship that she won by 12 shots two weeks ago at Locust Valley, she brought back memories of Tiger Woods’ 15-shot win in the 2000 U.S. Open and his 12-shot victory in the 1997 Masters.

But while there’s always a month between majors in men’s golf, the even-bigger Women’s Open is occurring only two weeks after the LPGA. The 156-golfer field will start play Thursday on one of America’s signature – and most sinister – courses.

For Kerr, it means there’s been little time to lose her game, her immense confidence or her momentum. However, any U.S. Open course, especially one as historically challenging as Oakmont, can be an effective equalizer.

That’s one of Kerr’s goals as she tries to win the major that eluded her at Saucon Valley a year ago, when she led the U.S. Women’s Open after 36 and 54 holes but couldn’t hold off South Korea’s Eun-Hee Ji to win. And that’s to make the biggest tournament of the year like the LPGA Championship, when Kerr was challenged more by the course than she was by the rest of the field.

“I feel great,” she said. “I feel like I’ve worked for this my whole life. I feel like I’ve worked for it and it’s coming true. It’s so great that I got there, but now it’s time to just keep doing the things that got me there.”

Kerr, 2009 Kraft Nabisco winner Brittany Lincicome and LPGA driving distance leader Michelle Wie might be the American golfers best positioned to win the Women’s Open, a tournament that’s been won four of the last five years by an international golfer. Only two of the top 10- and five of the top 20-ranked women’s golfers are American.

Everyone in the Top 20 is at Oakmont, including LPGA money leader Ai Miyazato, a four-time winner this year.

To American golf icon Arnold Palmer, who attended Wednesday’s practice rounds, Kerr is exactly what U.S. golf needs to stand up to the ever-increasing domination by international golfers. Three South Korean golfers have won the Women’s Open since 2005, including Ji.

“It is important that the American girls make a point, and Cristie has helped do that by being No. 1,” Palmer said.

Kerr’s No. 1 world ranking is the first by an American golfer since the rankings begin.

“I’ve got to somehow – and I’m working on that – keep my expectations low and just try to do my job out there,” said Kerr, who understands that the winning score at Oakmont won’t be anything like her 19-under last month.

Five over? Seven over? Even par? There are widely varying estimates what it will take to win at Oakmont.

However, the USGA’s Mike Davis said that, other than shaving 600 yards off the course, Oakmont is playing about the same as it did for the men’s 2007 U.S. Open won by Angel Cabrera at 5-over.

“Some of the players that maybe don’t see championship golf on a regular basis, you may see scores up in the 90s,” Davis said.

Gulp.

The 477-yard No. 9 hole, a par-4 for the men, will be a par-5 for the women, but there aren’t many other changes other than slightly wider fairways and not-as-thick rough.

Everything else is the same: The greens that drop precipitously and seem as fast as billiard tables, with even well-placed shots capable of skipping off them. The more than 200 shot-swallowing bunkers, including the famous Church Pews that stretch for more than 100 yards between the No. 3 and 4 fairways.

“Listen, we’re going to have the women play three years after the men,” Davis said. “Let’s try to see how the women play Oakmont and virtually try to set it up in the same manner.”

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”